“Abbott approaches sleep with an ineffable sense of relief that he did not know, before having a child, what it was like to have a child--did not real...more“Abbott approaches sleep with an ineffable sense of relief that he did not know, before having a child, what it was like to have a child--did not really know what it was really like--because if he had known before having a child how profoundly strenuous and self-obliterating it is to have a child, he never would have had a child, and then, or now, he would not have this remarkable child.”*
I see a lot of myself in Abbott. I like to think I have a big heart but I’m mostly just a selfish prick. I love my kids like I’ve never loved anything before, but I also hate them for what they've done to my life. Parenthood is so damn boring. I want freedom! I daydream about having an affair with the flirtatious waitress at the restaurant where I occasionally pick up takeouts just because it would bring some goddamn excitement to my life. But I won’t do that because I wouldn’t be able to live with myself. Plus I wouldn't want to hurt my wife. After all, she has succeeded in doing what every woman tries to do to their husband: she made me a better man. Before my wife took over my life, I never would have dreamed of doing all of the shit I do around the house. Now on a typical Saturday morning I go grocery shopping, do three loads of laundry, change a few poop-filled diapers, and mow the lawn before my single friends have even gotten back from the bars. I’m a fucking robot. I hate my life. I want to fill my car with books and booze and drive westward! I won’t stop until I taste freedom or run out of gas money. But I’m no Rabbit Angstrom and neither is Abbott. We just struggle sometimes with how to be a husband, a father, and a man. We may think we want to drift away, but we know we won’t. We’d be even more miserable than we are now.
Abbott Awaits is my favorite book from 2011 and it could be yours if you would just read it, you jerk. It won’t take long. I sent this book as a gift to one of my friends whose wife was pregnant with their second child and he read the whole thing at the hospital while she was in labor. Here's the text he sent me to announce the birth: “[Our son] arrived yesterday. Mom and baby are doing well. By the way, I just finished Abbott Awaits. Great little book!” Notice which sentence got the exclamation point.
* The quoted sentence should win an award for how many times it uses the words "have" and "child" but don’t let that scare you off. The book is really smart and funny and well-written. (less)
I never thought I would fall for a book by someone who would allow this picture of himself to adorn the back cover:
I can't explain it. I'm not one to...moreI never thought I would fall for a book by someone who would allow this picture of himself to adorn the back cover:
I can't explain it. I'm not one to be floored by silly, little self-help books full of spirituality and cliches and horrible stories and simple advice. But I was. This book might just change my life.
I'll hand the rest of this review over to David Foster Wallace:
"It seems to me that the intellectualization and aestheticizing of principles and values in this country is one of the things that's gutted our generation. All the things that my parents said to me, like 'It's really important not to lie.' OK, check, got it. I nod at that but I really don't feel it. Until I get to be about 30 and I realize that if I lie to you, I also can't trust you. I feel that I'm in pain, I'm nervous, I'm lonely and I can't figure out why. Then I realize, 'Oh, perhaps the way to deal with this is really not to lie.' The idea that something so simple and, really, so aesthetically uninteresting -- which for me meant you pass over it for the interesting, complex stuff -- can actually be nourishing in a way that arch, meta, ironic, pomo stuff can't, that seems to me to be important. That seems to me like something our generation needs to feel."(less)